Finding out what happens to people years after they marry could be the greatest sociological study any sociologists could have to tell them how we’re able to live together. While we still see marriages that lasted 70 years (and sometimes more), it’s seemed increasingly likely marriages of the last 20 years won’t last half that long. As you look at the last few years, most marriages seem doomed to go beyond a few years in a world that’s more troubled and filled with more responsibilities than ever.
We might find some answers to how we evolve to this stage through the upcoming documentary “112 Weddings” on HBO. Made by documentary filmmaker Doug Block, we see years of wedding videos he made over the years and a follow-up to what happened to those people. When he follows up, he discovers a lot of those marriages didn’t last, despite a number that have. It isn’t known exactly how many succeeded over those that didn’t, though it could be one of the most insightful documentaries we’ll ever see on the secret to marriage.
It’s an example of the follow-up documentary most known from Michael Apted and his “Up” series started 50 years ago with the title “Seven Up.” Following 14 British kids and following up on their whereabouts every seven years, Apted has continued the series without fail up until the most recent with “56 Up” in 2012. Those who haven’t seen these films are missing some of the greatest cinematic studies of sociology ever made, and it’s had countless imitators. In fact, many countries around the world have started similar follow-up documentaries already in the 1970s that continue to this day.
If you’ve ever seen Apted’s entire “Up” series from beginning to present, you know that people seldom turn out how you think they will years down the line. The same idea is going to be pointed out in “112 Weddings” where most weddings you don’t expect to work out usually do, and vice versa. It works the same way in countless weddings of notable people, even if most of those are usually over before they can reach their 10th anniversary.
With the follow-up documentary becoming more popular now thanks to Apted’s influence, what other subjects will we see followed up on in the near future? Seldom do we see follow-ups to popular documentaries, though there may be a demand for it when lessons can be learned about how life goes in completely different directions from how we imagine it.
Follow-Ups on Politicians and Social Issues
News is out that the infamous Dinesh D’Souza documentary on President Obama (“2016: Obama’s America”) will have a follow-up documentary this summer to address the true philosophy of America’s origins. No matter if you hated the aforementioned documentary at its cynicism, the follow-up may be worth seeing just to see the realities of where America really is now and what people think about our country’s past. You almost wish more documentaries could be made about recent politicians and doing follow-ups every few years. They’d be worth seeing just to see how much of their own policies make a true difference in the direction of America, or whether being a politician is an abject failure.
The same goes for movies covering social issues like the documentary “Bully” from a couple of years ago. Some recent documentaries that take on a social issue we were concerned about in a certain time frame may have a completely difference stance a few years later. Plenty has happened since “Bully” was made, even if bullying is still a major problem in America.
You also have the snapshot documentaries done over the years on various notable people in the arts that sometimes demand follow-ups after the noted person lives decades after. If Justin Bieber and a few other pop stars seem to be doing follow-up snapshot documentaries lately, they arguably don’t compare to the documentaries of the past covering a short part of a notable person’s life. Follow-up documentaries on everyone from Beyonce to Michael Jackson’s posthumous legacy would put some of the best-known names in the arts into more educational perspective being updated every seven years.
As Michael Apted showed us in his documentaries, seven years seems the perfect length of time to see the evolution of a person. Most of us seem to change every seven years and go in directions we didn’t think would happen. If follow-up documentaries do enough of these about influential people, we’d see how universal this truth is.